The Search For The Holy Grail Essay

, Research Paper

What is the Holy Grail? A goblet? A philosophers & # 8217 ; rock? The

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lineage of Christ? In Arthurian love affairs the quest for the ever-elusive

Holy Grail and the secrets therein was the highest religious chase one

could ship on. In today & # 8217 ; s times it is a mental, instead than a physical,

journey, and while non fraught with the danger it one time was, it is still, for all

practical intents, an exciting and adventuresome journey. To detect the

truth of the individuality of the Holy Grail, one must first expression to see what it

originally was, and how it evolved to go what is normally known

as the Holy Grail today. There are many ways of making this. For illustration,

one can look at it through the love affairs concerned chiefly with the pursuit

for the Grail and the heroes in it, or through the love affairs whose head

concern was the history and traditional knowledge environing the Grail itself. Both

illustrations will be addressed. The best manner to get down any escapade is from

the beginning ; therefore, this is where the paper shall get down, and so go on

to travel chronologically through clip and the development of the Grail


Perceval ou Conte del Graal ( Perceval, or the Story of the Grail ) ,

written by Chretien de Troyes around the twelvemonth 1180, is regarded by many

as the oldest of the Grail love affairs. The first glance of the grail is at a

palace inhabited by a & # 8220 ; maimed King & # 8221 ; , and besides known as the & # 8220 ; Fisher King & # 8221 ; .

He is a adult male in ageless torture, who sustained a cryptic lesion in

the thigh caused by the push of a javelin. The King & # 8217 ; s unhealing lesion

later causes the state around the palace to go wastes

and becomes known as the Wasteland. When Perceval is admitted to the

hall, he sees a emanation of young persons transporting cryptic objects go throughing

through the hall ;

& # 8220 ; & # 8230 ; a squire came away from a chamber transporting a white spear by the center of the shaft ; he passed between the fire and those seated upon the bed. Everyone in the hall saw the white spear with its white point from whose tip there issued a bead of blood, and this ruddy bead flowed down to the squire & # 8217 ; s manus & # 8230 ; The other two squires entered keeping in their custodies a candelabrum of pure gold, crafted with enamel inlays & # 8230 ; In each of the candelabrum there were at least 10 candle combustion. A inaugural attach toing the two immature work forces was transporting a grail with her two custodies & # 8230 ; After she had entered the hall transporting the grail the room was so brilliantly illumined that the tapers lost their glare like stars and the Moon when the Sun rises. After her came another maiden, transporting a Ag carving platter. The grail, which was introduced foremost, was of all right pure gold. Set in the grail were cherished rocks of many sorts, the best and costliest to be found in Earth or sea: the grail & # 8217 ; s rocks were finer than any others in the universe without any uncertainty. The grail passed by like the spear ; they passed in forepart of the bed and into another chamber & # 8221 ; ( de Troyes, 420.

Perceval is funny as to the significance of these objects, and whom

they serve, but he remembers his instructor in knightly ways, Gornemant,

warning him as to the boorishness of inquiring to many inquiries, and

decides non to inquire. This is his ruin, for with one inquiry asked by

Perceval, it is said that the Maimed King would be restored in wellness,

along with the environing Wastelands. Perceval leaves the palace,

shamed. The narrative continues, but merely somewhat more is heard about the

Grail, and it is ne’er seen once more, as the narrative ends, suddenly and in mid-

sentence due to Chretien & # 8217 ; s decease. Therefore, while Chretien & # 8217 ; s narrative is unfinished,

plenty was written about the Grail to trip the beginnings of a fable to

last for old ages to come.

In Chretien & # 8217 ; s Perceval, the grail does non look to hold any

peculiar spiritual character, nor does Chretien travel on to explicate the

nature of the cryptic objects seen in the hall of the Maimed King. In

fact, the grail does non look to be anything peculiarly alone. The term

grail comes from the Latin gradale, which means a somewhat deep dish or

platter brought to the tabular array at the assorted phases of a repast.

The first writer to & # 8220 ; Christianize & # 8221 ; the Grail narrative and associate the Grail to the

cup used by Christ at the Last Supper was Robert de Boron in his verse form

Joseph d & # 8217 ; Arimathie, written in the early thirteenth century. He pinpoints the

beginning of the Grail as the & # 8220 ; really baronial vas & # 8221 ; which was used by Christ at

the Last Supper to execute the Holy Sacraments. It was so passed into

the ownership of Joseph of Arimathea, a figure described in the New

Testament to hold been present at the crucifixion, who used it to garner

the blood of Christ as his organic structure was taken from the cross. The spear used to

Pierce the thigh of the Maimed King is besides associated with the Lance of

Longinus, the spear used to pierce Christ & # 8217 ; s side. Joseph so left the Holy

Land and went to Britain, taking the Grail along with him, pulling a

analogue to the fable that Joseph was responsible for transition of Britain

to Christianity. The grail was passed down through the coevalss of his

household, and set the phase for Perceval & # 8217 ; s reaching at the palace of the current

owner and defender of the Grail with Chretien.

In Parzival, by Wolfram von Eshcenbach, there is a different kind of

Grail wholly ; it is said to be Lapis Exillis, a cherished rock of particular

pureness possessing marvelous powers, though Lapis Exillis could be a

corruptness of the name Lapis Elixir, translated as the & # 8220 ; philosophers & # 8217 ; rock & # 8221 ; .

It could besides be derived from the term Lapis Ex Coelis, which translates as

& # 8220 ; the rock from the celestial spheres & # 8221 ; and seems to suit with the use in Parzival.

Wolfram & # 8217 ; s narrative is fundamentally the same as Chretien & # 8217 ; s, with more

amplification and inside informations thrown in, and a unquestionably Christian facet. In

fact Chretien & # 8217 ; s Perceval is considered to be Wolfram & # 8217 ; s chief beginning,

though he specifically denies that, and alternatively states his beginning to be a

pagan, Kyot, who was subsequently baptized, and who told how angels left the

Grail on Earth.

In Wolfram & # 8217 ; s history, Parzival arrives at what he identifies as the


cubic decimeter Castle, called Munsalvaesche, the place of the Maimed King. As

with Chretien, in Wolfram & # 8217 ; s history there is a emanation of kinds through

the hall ;

& # 8220 ; A page ran in at the door bearing & # 8230 ; a Spear from whose acute steel blood issued and so ran down the shaft to his manus and all but reached his arm & # 8221 ; ( von Eshenbach, 123 )

After the Lance is removed from the hall, a big sum of maidens

enter transporting assorted points, such as trestles of tusk, and beautiful Ag

knives. Wolfram remarks extensively on this spectacle, largely their

visual aspect, which is seemingly rather singular. Last in the emanation

came the Princess of the Grail palace, and

& # 8220 ; upon a green achmardi she bore the consummation of her bosom & # 8217 ; s desire, its root and its flowering & # 8211 ; a thing called & # 8220 ; The Gral & # 8221 ; , paradisal, transending all earthly flawlessness. She whom the Gral suffered to transport itself had the name of Repanse de Schoye. Such was the nature of the Gral, that she who had the attention of it was required to be of perfect celibacy and to hold renounced all things false & # 8221 ; ( von Eshenbach, 125 )

Wolfram so goes on to state us that

& # 8220 ; whatever one stretched out one & # 8217 ; s manus for in the presence of the Gral, it was waiting, one found it all ready and to manus & # 8211 ; dishes warm, dishes cold, new-fangled dishes and old front-runners, the meat of animals both tame and wild & # 8230 ; for the Gral was the really fruit of cloud nine, a horn of plenty of the Sweets of this universe and such that it barely fell abruptly of what they tell us of the Heavenly Kingdom & # 8221 ; ( von Eshenbach, 126-27 ) .

As earlier, Parzival is funny about the objects and longs to inquire a

Question. However, he remembers being counseled by Gurnemanz non to

inquire excessively many inquiries, and opts to take his advice. Wolfram finishes what

Chretien left unfinished, and tells us of Parzival & # 8217 ; s ( eventual ) salvation at

the Grail palace after he goes on a religious pursuit, on which he really

discoveries out he is the nephew of the Maimed King. He is made worthy one time

once more of the Grail, and the Grail King is healed, every bit good as the surrounding

land restored, after Parzival asks, & # 8220 ; Dear Uncle, what ails you? & # 8221 ; As the

nephew of the Grail King, he is besides to be his replacement, and the narrative terminals

with Parzival as the new Grail King.

There are inside informations present in Wolfram & # 8217 ; s narrative that weren & # 8217 ; T in Chretien & # 8217 ; s

relation, chiefly that of an organized community centered around the grail,

and the thought of a familial line of defenders of the Grail, the Fisher

Kings/descendants of Joseph of Arimathea, whose main responsibility was to

protect the Grail. These are both seemingly add-ons of Wolframs ain

creative activity.

The following major installment of the Grail fable is the Queste del Saint

Graal ( The Quest of the Holy Grail ) and attributed to Walter Map in the last

paragraph, but is more likely to hold been written by a monastic or monastics of

the Cistercian order. The narrative of the Quest of the Holy Grail is wholly

encompassed in Le Morte D & # 8217 ; Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory in the chapter

& # 8220 ; The Tale of The Sangreal & # 8221 ; , and therefore we shall analyze the two narratives

together. Both narratives are concerned chiefly with the existent pursuit for the

Grail, but besides give some history of the history of the Grail.

Once once more, as with Chretien, the Grail is depicted as the platter or

somewhat deep dish which supplied whatever nutrient one reached one & # 8217 ; s manus

out for, but the hero of the quest is no longer Parzival/Perceval, but

Galahad, the virtuous boy of Lancelot and the girl of the Fisher King.

The narrative begins on the Eve of Pentecost at King Arthur & # 8217 ; s Court in

Camelot. King Arthur is told that a place at the Round Table will one twenty-four hours be

filled by a knight who seeks and beholds the Holy Grail, most likely

mentioning to the & # 8220 ; Siege Perilous & # 8221 ; , a chair which no 1 but the appointed

can sit in without bechancing some bad luck, or even decease. Galahad

comes to Camelot that really twenty-four hours, and assumes his rightful topographic point in the

Siege Perilous. Later that twenty-four hours, after piecing themselves around the

Round Table, the knights behold the Holy Grail,

& # 8220 ; When they were all seated and the noise was hushed, there came a bang of boom so loud and awful that they thought the castle must fall. Suddenly the hall was lit by a sunray which shed a glow through the castle seven times brighter than had been earlier. In this minute they were all illumined as it might be by the grace of the Holy Ghost, and they began to look at one another, unsure and perplexed. But non one nowadays could express a word, for all had been struck dense, without regard of individual. When they had sat a long piece therefore, unable to talk and staring at one another like dumb animate beings, the Holy Grail appeared, covered with a fabric of white samite ; and yet no mortal manus was seen to bear it. It entered through the great door, and at one time the castle was filled with aroma as though all the spices of the Earth had been spilled abroad. It circled the hall along the great tabular arraies and each topographic point was furnished in its aftermath with the nutrient its residents desired. When all were served, the Holy Grail vanished, they knew non how nor whither & # 8221 ; ( The Quest of the Holy Grail, 43-44 )

After the vision of the Grail, Gawain vows foremost to seek it out. After his

avouchment, the knights of the Round Table besides make similar vows. The remainder of

the narrative consists chiefly of the subsequent escapades of the assorted Grail-

searchers. Three knights win in their quest to happen the Grail, but merely one

beholds it and all its enigmas, the Christ-like Galahad. Lancelot and

Perceval besides beheld the Grail, but merely in a vision or a dream due to

Lancelot & # 8217 ; s iniquitous love for Guinevere and Perceval & # 8217 ; s holding committed one


This reaffirms the thought that merely the mentally and spiritually pure

may lay eyes on the enigmas of the Grail,

& # 8220 ; the escapades that you are now to seek concern the nature and manifestations of the Holy Grail ; these marks will ne’er look to evildoers or work forces sunk deep in guilt & # 8221 ; ( The Quest of the Holy Grail, 174 ) .

As seen, the narrative of the Holy Grail varies with writer to author but

continues to stay an object of enigma and captivation. It involves an

otherworldly kingdom of which merely a glance can be caught in narratives and

in prose.